Going abroad to study is a particularly exciting project, especially for a young student! So much so that we sometimes forget to prepare well for our departure! Don’t panic, we have concocted a list of 6 mistakes you should not make to prepare for your studies abroad.
Lack of preparation
The key to successful study abroad is, of course, anticipation and preparation. One of the first things you should do when considering your destination is to find out about the host countries and cities offered by your school or university. Even if at first glance a destination may seem interesting, living and holidaying there is very different. Once there, you will not be able to change your choice! So make a careful selection based on testimonials from other students, blogs from expats, forums and a cost-of-living survey. Also, do some cultural research so as not to be too shocked if the local lifestyle is very different from yours.
Do you find your institution’s administrative procedures for preparing for your studies abroad insurmountable? You’re not done yet, because once you’ve been selected, you’ll have to comply with the administrative specificities of the country in question. In particular, find out about the following points:
- Passport: Depending on your destination, you may or may not need a passport. If you are travelling outside the European Union, it is compulsory. Click here to find out all you need to know about passports.
- Visa: To study abroad, some countries will require you to have a student visa. Remember to get organized, as this requires additional steps, processing time, fees and sometimes even a personal visit to the embassy in question.
- Health insurance: Abroad, your Social Security will not work as it does in France, if at all (more information on Social Security abroad)! Be careful to think about an insurance solution for your possible medical expenses on the spot. Some destinations even make this insurance compulsory, otherwise you won’t be able to attend classes. Discover our insurance offers for studying abroad.
- Vaccinations: Some are mandatory to enter your destination country. Others are not but, depending on the activities you plan to do there, are highly recommended. Remember to pay a short visit to your doctor a few months before your departure to set up a vaccination schedule if necessary. Discover our vaccination guide.
- Accommodation : The question of accommodation is crucial, and it is often difficult to find a roof over your head. Problems with housing scams are very common, so be very careful and use trustworthy platforms. Find out more about your university’s partnerships.
Finally, it is essential to prepare a budget for your stay. Going abroad represents a cost that you must estimate and anticipate. Preparing a budget for your studies abroad will allow you to organise yourself, and why not apply for financial aid. Find out about the scholarships available for studying abroad. A poorly estimated budget will be a source of additional stress, or even a major problem that could jeopardize your project.
Overburdening yourself with too much luggage
Going abroad for a semester or even a year means packing intelligently. How do you fit all your belongings into so little luggage? Overloading is the most common mistake of departing students. It’s certainly a bit difficult, but only take what you are comfortable carrying, and don’t forget that you’ll probably make a few purchases on the spot that will come back with you. If you already have difficulties carrying your suitcases on the outward journey, what will you do on the return trip?! Unless you are travelling to a remote area, you should find everything you need on a daily basis in your new city. Here are a few tips for packing a suitcase containing only the essentials. Remember to pack a backpack, which you can also use for trips to your host country. Finally, don’t forget to weigh your luggage before you leave in order to respect the weight limits of your airline and not to pay for excess luggage.
Keep in touch, but not too much!
Keeping in touch with your family and friends while studying abroad is of course important, but it is also a trap you should not fall into! For some people, adapting to a new country can be difficult: staying connected all day can be a way of escaping the daily grind. Conversely, others adapt so easily that they forget their loved ones.
So it’s up to you to find the right balance, by rationing your exchanges with your loved ones without neglecting them. A great proof of maturity and independence!
Forgetting to work
Always keep in mind that you are leaving as a student, not as a tourist. Although your stay should remain enjoyable, allow a reasonable amount of time for your studies, as it would be a shame if this experience were to interfere with your educational path. While studying abroad, it is important to find a balance between your social and academic life. By favouring your social life over your studies, your budget will be severely affected and may make your stay more complicated. What’s more, you can meet many people at your university or during the (often free) activities planned to welcome foreign students. So don’t hesitate any longer, head to the school!
Do not explore the surroundings
Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity to combine travel and study, so take the opportunity to explore the surrounding area. Find out about the trips organised by your institution, often associations organise trips that are inexpensive and that will allow you to meet other students. Let yourself be tempted by the discovery of this new culture: travel to new places, taste new flavours, meet new people! The years of study abroad are often the occasion for beautiful encounters and unforgettable memories.